The hotel and travel digital marketing trends of 2019 offer actionable insights to help marketers plan their strategies for 2020. Carmelon Digital Marketing prepared a detailed overview of these trends. Here are a few highlights:
Mobile-first customer experiences
Customers favour using mobile devices to book hotels so the defining hotel trend of 2019 was mobile-first. That Google enabled mobile-first indexing by default for all new websites starting July 1, 2019, supports this argument. Statistics also show that customers tend to book more using their mobile devices than traditional PCs. Out of 148.3 million travel bookings on average every year, 65% of same-day hotel bookings are made via smartphone devices according to EventForte.
Rise of voice search
Voice search soared in 2019. 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according to ComScore. Apple, Google, and Microsoft have already enabled voice search for hotels and are working on applications for users to complete bookings. Therefore, hoteliers should optimise their sites for voice search right now.
Visual search gains momentum
One of the most interesting trends of 2019 was the rise of visual search. easyJet built a visual search tool that lets people book flights based on just a photo in October 2018. Visual search is already used successfully by other hospitality and travel businesses as well. For instance, Lonely Planet acquired Trill Travel in April 2019. Trill enables users to book travel experiences based on content creators' Instagram posts. We expect to see more visual search developments in 2020 and, according to Gartner, by 2021 early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.
AI continues to grow
In 2019, AI-based technologies – particularly chatbots in travel and hospitality – continued to grow. AI is used in all kinds of applications that improve customer experience, as well as conversions and the bottom line.
- 85% of travel and hospitality professionals are using artificial intelligence within their business. (TCS)
- 60% of companies plan to employ AI to their marketing efforts in the next four years.
- By 2025, the global AI market is expected to be almost $60 billion. (TechJury)
- 84% of global businesses believe that AI would allow their organisations to gain or sustain a competitive advantage over their rivals. (Statista)
The power of video marketing
Video marketing was another trend that defined 2019, with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram as the top three platforms used by marketers to post social marketing videos and video ads. With over 500 million people are watching video on Facebook every day (Forbes), no wonder that marketers understand the value of using this strategy to generate brand awareness and to boost ROI. Note that according to Cisco, online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.
TripAdvisor as a social network
TripAdvisor is no longer just a review site – it’s more complex as it offers a richer experience for its users, beyond reviews. It can be used for travel planning, finding influencers, reading information from industry leaders, and so on. Marketers can still benefit from TripAdvisor’s suite of advertising opportunities, but they have more opportunities to reach their audiences, with video, photo, and links too.
Influencer marketing still a powerful strategy
Although not a new trend, influencer marketing continued to grow in 2019 with marketers finding new ways to approach and to motivate social media personalities. Per CreatorIQ, Instagram was the top platform for influencer marketing - 93% of influencer campaigns. Most influencers – 80% – use Instagram as their primary network. To satisfy the growing need for influencer marketing, Instagram has introduced the “creator accounts” to give influencers and brands more details about how or why their audience has shifted. This type of Instagram account also gives users access to the Creator Studio to manage Instagram posts and get insights from the desktop. Creator accounts also have access to in-depth analytics and stats.
Other hotel and travel digital marketing trends of 2019
2019 was a busy year. Marketers used all kinds of channels to appeal to more consumers.
- Experience marketing, although not new, grew last year, with sites like Airbnb offering Airbnb Experiences - one-of-a-kind activities hosted by locals, and Booking.com seeing its Experiences service in 60 cities worldwide gaining more popularity. Many hotels and hospitality businesses enhanced their offerings with exciting activities, cuisine, tours, and more to enhance the guest experience.
- AR and VR technologies were integrated more in the marketing strategies that dominated 2019. Both technologies are becoming increasingly popular, and according to Alice, 52% of guests are interested in touring hotels in AR or VR.
- Metasearch remained a relevant, highly effective digital marketing channel to increase visibility and drive direct bookings.
Besides minding these hotel and travel digital marketing trends, hoteliers and hospitality marketers still need to focus on the consumer and online reputation remains an essential facet of digital marketing.